A migration is defined as a journey with a clear purpose from one area or region to another, often following a well-defined route to a familiar destination, and often at a specific season or time, for life and for survival.
In a modern-day human migration, one not dictated by war or seeking asylum, the backpacking route fills a need for change and exploration for many people. You only have to look at the success of stories like Wild, Eat Pray Love, On the Road, The Beach and The Motorcycle Diaries that document the author's growth and lessons on their travels to see its resonance and relevancy to the general public. These voyages were littered with nourishment for the author's soul in new adventures, new people and, thus, new perspectives on living.
It might be a passing comment from a stranger or travelling companion, but I feel like when I am in the travelling flow and open to the world, it can sometimes feel like someone is carrying a message designed for me, or, on occasion, I have one I am meant to deliver in return.
It's like when we are moving, we flow with life a little better than when we stand still and wait for life to arrive towards us or follow the paths constructed by society that we lay out for ourselves. Those people you meet on these adventures can unwittingly and unknowingly play a vital part of that journey, delivering the insights and signs you need at the exact time.
So it came that I met Reza and his adventure, through my good mate Corey, at the exact point I needed.
Reza is a survival expert and had recently completed a journey through Africa with National Geographic’s new show Mygrations. Mygrations follows a team of 20 men and women crossing hundreds of miles of scorched savannah, as they set out on foot, unarmed and without a map or compass, to follow in the footsteps of the wildebeest migration.
REZA has one of those families where I instantly wanted to hug all of them. When we walked in the door for this family gathering, we were instantly embraced into the fold as we all settled around the big screen to watch the debut. The first episode was showcasing all the emotions and the fears that the 'human herd' was going through in the first days arriving in Africa and getting ready to set out on their expedition. They were all fears I recognised. One person quit because they were out of their comfort zone, one person left due to PTSD and one person to injury. I could feel and recognise echoes of it in my own journey.
I looked at Reza sitting there amongst his proud family, and thought, ‘You know what, I am not exiting in the first show. What I am experiencing is the phases of fear - being sick is a valid reason, of course. But I have visited this fear place before. Fear and I have encountered each other many times. While fear is vital, it is still so easy to be confused between feelings of fear and instinct. While I am not crossing the Savannah by any means, I am stepping outside my comfort zone. These feelings are part of the cycle of all adventures. There is no shame in exit and listening to your instinct. My body IS under attack, but I know I can push forward, I know the best place I can be is on this new adventure and I know I can physically nurture myself better'. Just seeing this, made some of the confusion I was feeling slip away.
While everyone was eating pizza, one of the family members (not knowing about my upcoming adventure) mentioned about how if there was any place they wouldn’t go to do a survival show, that they wouldn’t go to Canada. Because of the bears and the wolves. Corey looked over at me and grinned. I grinned back.
THE NEXT MORNING as we were waiting for the shuttle, Reza showed me a few things from Survival School, teaching me how to light a fire on his porch. As he was rubbing the spindle up and down the fireboard and I looked on, trying to absorb every moment of it, I was struck by the absurdity.
The day before, I was asking the Universe for a good sign, because I had had a week of bad signs. Now here I was staying with a Survival Expert and watching the premiere of his new show on National Geographic with him (my big dream is to write for them one day). If that’s not a sign of the Universe looking out for me, I don’t know what is!
When I started giggling to myself and exclaimed to Reza ‘Isn’t life funny?! That of all the places in the world, it is has bought me right here. Right now. Doing this’. He grinned at me above the smoke and spindle in acknowledgement.
“Life IS amazing. TRAVEL is amazing. Travel will take you to places you can’t even imagine. I wish more people understood just how amazing it really is.’
After starting a little fire, hugs were exchanged and I hopped in the shuttle heading back to LA and to my flight to Santa Rosa and Portland.
The driver was a refugee from Syria. He had once been a businessman of moderate success, owning his own manufacturing factories. All that was left behind in the effort to provide a better life for his three daughters. It had become too dangerous for his children to even step outside to get an education, as schools were targets. His livelihood was bombed and destroyed, but he remained optimistic.
“My daughters are safe and getting an education, and that’s what really matters,” he said. We spoke about how life can change in an instance and that there are no promises of permanency. While sad at the events that have happened, he was so grateful to be here in America. I left feeling reminded and grateful for the opportunities life has delivered me.
Lost in thought, my taxi driver's life was a reminder that you never really know what is around the corner and no one is immune to life's surprises. The best traits to develop is the ability to adapt. To adapt to life's constant movements and the new circumstances in our life. The best things to invest in are memories and moments with our loved ones.
TRAVEL will deliver you the right people at the right time, with the right messages. Old friends, new friends. Long moments, fleeting moments. For growth, for change, for insight. If you listen to the world, it will deliver the people you need, with the messages you need.